How often have you been livid with your boss? And how often have you dragged your friend and confidante at work to vent the rage out to her?
Now replace this friend with social media—Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Does the prospect of a rash tirade about the company you work for sound as appealing as talking to a friend or a colleague who is your sounding board?
To a rational mind, perhaps not. However, there have been increasing instances of employees getting into big trouble over their work-related rants on social media. Howsoever toxic you may perceive your organisation to be, a public rant will never help.
Social media has the power to reach thousands of people instantly, and can play a key role in your career as your personal brand builder. Think of all those influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn. They are experts and domain specialists in their respective areas, and have built their personal brand carefully, tweet by tweet and post by post. That said, there is no denying the need to vent, and address the issue when you face humiliation and bullying at work.
Bullies do terrible damage to people and organisations alike. Imagine being picked on in meeting after meeting for one thing or the other, and constantly being told you are not good enough. Humiliating a senior person in front of her juniors or undermining a team leader to his team. All these hurt the self-esteem of the person at the receiving end. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Bullying takes many forms and shapes. In one instance, a super boss belittled the team leader every time a critical decision was being made.
In one instance, a boss would deliberately and continuously leave one person out from team lunch invites, and team gatherings. There were no harsh words in this instance, but this bullying went on for years, and the subtle callousness of this boss went largely unnoticed. Often, organisations do not have ready and active mechanisms to deal with bullying.
How does one deal with a bully, especially when in some instances it will be the person one reports to? Asking a senior or a workplace mentor to intervene could be an option. Documenting the instances of bullying and bringing them to the notice of a super boss at an opportune time would be the right thing to do. Bullying has deep psychological repercussions. If there is no help around for a long time, bide your time, look for opportunities and opt out. What if you have thrown all caution to the wind, and were so provoked and hurt that you spoke against the employer on social media? This rant would not be without consequences.
First, a rant (worse, a vitriolic attack) would make you seem unprofessional to the core. Instead of resolving the issue, you chose to put it out on a public platform. Some may dismiss you as a disgruntled employee.
Second, you will seem like a person who is emotional and not equipped to deal with workplace issues dispassionately. How will then a potential employer trust you with decision-making?
Third, a social media attack on the employer will seem wrong as this is just one side of the issue. Your company likely has a large number of employees who are managing well in the same setup. Other members in your team may get along well with the same boss whom you have harangued and raged against publicly.
Four, by putting across a defamatory post against your employer or boss, you are putting yourself in a situation where the employer or the boss can take legal action against you. None of the above is conducive to your career.
When you have built your career gradually, meticulously over years, it’s foolish to damage it with a few hasty, thoughtless words. How can you make amends after you have posted something nasty about your employer on social media? Since you chose social media to inflict the damage, take recourse to the same platform to damage-control. Edit the post or perhaps put another post explaining how hasty the earlier post was. Explain that it was a weak moment that prompted you to post the rant.
While you do have lots of unresolved issues with the organisation, show your regret at choosing an inappropriate platform. Every employee has faced workplace problems that often remain unresolved. People will identify with the weak moment that you found yourself in. Be the bigger person and apologise unconditionally if your post hurt someone. An exit from the current job should always be graceful. Finally, move on. And start to rebuild your career. Meet people and proactively point out the out-of-character rant if they are your potential employers. Careers are not built on rants; they are built on honesty, ethics, and strength of character.
The writer has been a journalist for more than 15 years. [Courtesy – ToI]